If you or your family members haven’t been hospitalised yet for whatsoever reason, this guide is must read!
I am writing this guide especially for people who have no EXPERIENCE when it comes to first time hospitalisation. I want to share my experience of dealing with hospitalisation and how to tackle it well financially and tactically.
I completely understand how it feels like when it comes getting that first news of major hospitalisation in your family.
Even if there’s no major hospitalisation, you MUST be knowing following things because you never know you may find yourself in a tough spot in life.
This tactical guide will cover –
- My own experience with first time hospitalisation
- The Do’s and Don’ts
- How to research about the disease and doctors
- How to not get scammed by doctors and hospitals
- How to tackle entire hospitalisation process
By first time hospitalisation, I mean no one in your immediate family has been hospitalised before and this is going to be your first time with some family member getting serious with certain disease.
Sharing my First Time hospitalisation –
Back in 2019, when pandemic hit us. I knew everyone in the family is healthy enough to cope up with this disease. Still as many recommended, I took health insurance.
For those who don’t know health insurance – it is same as mediclaim where if you meet with an accident, your hospital expenses get paid partially or fully.
I had no clue about which one to buy and I was buying for my whole family so I needed to be sure whichever i am buying, it has all the required benefits.
Fast forward to Oct 2021, my dad went on a routine checkup for his tongue and the doctor luckily was Medical Oncologist. They saw the issue and suggested it can be a case of Oral Cancer.
Just imagine what everyone in the family would have gone through. At that time, I was staying with my friend far away from the house to experience living a bachelor life. My main goal was to learn how to run a house, check if I can actually run a house, manage cooking, yet stay focused on my entrepreneurial journey.
This was going to be my first hospitalisation where I have to take care of everything. Be it travel, hospitalisation, tests, consultations, managing finances, doctors, mediclaim, and so on.
After getting to know this, I shifted back to my house. We started researching about the disease, treatments and so on.
Long story short – Since it was stage 1 cancer, we managed to operate early and now my dad is out of danger.
Here are my learnings from first time hospitalisation –
1. Not trying to panic and keeping your family calm
As soon as the news hits you, you and your family panics for obvious reasons. Thoughts like –
- Is this curable?
- How should we go about it?
- From whom we can take help?
- What about our financial situation? Will we be able to afford this? and so on
I suggest trying to calm down your family and yourself. Focus on what’s on the plate currently.
Eg: in my case, doctors had suggested us to do two tests – Biopsy and PET-CT Scan
Focus on getting at hand tasks done first and consoling everyone in the house around the thought that – “Let’s first do the test and then check. No need to panic or overthink now”
2. Researching about Disease
Start researching about the disease. You can use google to just get an idea about the disease.
Eg: I knew this is tongue cancer but didn’t know this disease comes under Oral cancer list.
I also got to know that doctors who operate on cancers, are known as Oncologists.
There are 2 types of Oncologists –
- Medical Oncologists – The ones who checks and does initial recommendations
- Surgical Oncologists – The ones who actually operate on the patient and recommend the complete procedure
Start researching about the disease as soon as possible. Check online platforms that offer consultations as well.
TIP – Never trust google for hacks or home-remedies related to your disease. You don’t want to impact the intensity of the disease with wrong decisions.
In case, you do not have anyone to consult, Try online platforms like Practo and schedule a consultation call with experts.
You can also take help of doctors from your health insurance support. Some well known health insurance companies like HDFC, MaxBhupa provide consultation for free if you have their policy.
3. Checking with your Health Insurance Policy
I think this should be your first step when it comes to tackling disease. Just call up your agent or concerned customer care number and ask whether they cover the disease or not.
In most cases, they should but again it depends on company to company.
I started researching whether my current ICICI Lombard policy covers cancer as a disease or not.
Things to note while buying Health Insurance –
Majority of people think that when they buy an insurance policy, every disease is covered. But sadly, majority of policies are recommended like LIC which are utter bullsh*t.
I have even come across policies where even if you have a cover of 5 lakhs, due to their policy terms, example – diabetes disease. They will be only covering expenses worth Rs. 1 lakh or so. So technically there’s no use of remaining cover.
The waiting period is what I skipped when doing my research. Do take into account the waiting period of the particular policy.
Waiting period basically means – after buying the policy, if the doctor detects any disease which was pre-existing or you may have a pre-existing disease, its expenses will not be covered UNTIL 2 YEARS!
So you will have to at least renew the policy for 2 years and then take benefits of the policy.
I recommend getting health insurance in 2-3 years after you start earning. For your parents – health insurance is a must even if you think they are healthy and doing fine.
You need to check which are the Network hospitals covered by the policy. The place where I stay – the closest popular hospital is Bharti Hospital. I got to know that ICICI Lombard health insurance is not accepted at Bharti Hospital!
So I had to look for another hospital that accepts ICICI Lombard health insurance.
Make sure the policy you are opting for covers major hospitals in your city/area.
Network hospital makes sure your hospitalisation is done Cash-less. By cash-less I mean, you don’t have to pay upfront for the treatment. Note – There will be expenses like tests, consultations and medicines that will not be covered in the policy.
Without a network hospital, your treatment will not be covered in cash-less. You will have to pay upfront first and then claim for reimbursement from the policy which in many cases doesn’t cover 100% or even 90% of the expense.
So choose your policy wisely!
I read countless articles on health insurance and watched multiple health insurance videos during those times.
Ditto Insurance’s Health Insurance guide is the best one I have read so far if you want to dig in more. You can also consult their team on Whatsapp regarding your disease and which policy is best suitable.
Few videos I recommended everyone to watch and take notes from –
4. Researching about Doctors and Network hospitals functioning about the disease
Here you need to know who are the best doctors for your disease. In our case i.e cancer, I found an online platform – onco.com to check for experts in my city – Pune.
You will also get a lot of doctors in your city who will be specialists in that domain.
If you have doctors in your network, they will guide you best. For someone who doesn’t have a good doctor network, you can check Practo (India) or such online platforms for help.
How NOT to get SCAMMED by doctors and private hospitals
I researched offline and online regarding all the doctors possible. Read their reviews online and even contacted few of my doctor friends for review.
Now every surgeon has their own way to deal with patients. If you go to Private hospitals, they will try to charge you a bomb for even small tests.
They will also scare you with complex terms if needed. Just listen to them and move on to doctors who you are comfortable with. Financial decisions matter a lot here.
My recommendation –
Always perform preliminary tests through a government hospital and then consult reports to a doctor in private hospital. This way you will save on tests.
In our case, a PET-CT Scan report costed us Rs. 8000 in government hospital whereas in private hospital the same test is for Rs. 15,000+!
Scamming tactics used by doctors and hospitals –
Depending on the disease, One of the private hospital doctors suggested we complete surgery which will cost us Rs. 3-5 Lakhs, and told us to file pre-approval from ICICI Lombard Health insurance.
The same surgery was costing us less than Rs. 1 lakh at a popular hospital with an experienced surgeon.
CAUTION – Choose wisely as some diseases may require complex surgeries that only experts are recommended of performing. If you have a good financial backing, go with private hospitals.
Another finding about doctors –
If you visit a doctor at “A” hospital. In majority cases, the doctor may be also operating in “B” hospital in lesser charges. So make sure you ask the doctor and convey them of your financial position accordingly.
Benefits of Government Hospital
The biggest help we got is they told us about “Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Jan Arogya Yojana”.
Now you may think that government hospitals are not good. It’s risky to operate in such hospitals. I completely get it. If you are doing well financially, I suggest going to private hospital else government schemes like above will help you alot!
Under this yojana, all your surgery, as well as hospitalisation expenses, will be covered.
First check which hospitals in your city are falling under this scheme and you can visit the hospital.
You will need to visit the hospital and check if your treatment is getting covered under this yojana.
Only requirement for qualifying is – You need to have colored ration card to avail the scheme benefits.
Scheme details –
5. Taking utmost care of the patient
This is no brainer advice to everyone reading this.
Once the surgery or operation takes place, make sure you take good care of the patient. The reasons that caused the disease SHOULD/MUST not be repeated.
Start visiting the doctor in regular intervals to monitor the disease.
Another TIP – Make sure you take medicines in bulk from a wholesale vendor in case of pro-long disease like diabetes or blood pressure.
These were all the things I learned from my first hospitalization experience.
Make sure you share this with your friends and family who have never had an experience of hospitalisation because you never know you may need to do all the above things at any point in your life.